Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories 4/28/06

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An Oregon city pays -- again -- for the actions of a criminal cop, a border crime family's ties reach into law enforcement, another border drug cop goes bad, and a crooked deputy in a crooked Tennessee county heads for the federal slammer. Let's get to it:

In Greenville, Tennessee, a former Cocke County sheriff's deputy was sentenced to eight years in federal prison Monday after earlier pleading guilty to cocaine trafficking and carrying a weapon in the commission of a drug trafficking offense. Deputy Larry Dodgin, a 27-year sheriff's office veteran, was arrested in June 2005 after trying to buy $60,000 worth of cocaine from an undercover FBI agent. Dodgin came to the attention of federal investigators rooting through corruption charges in Cocke county in 2004, when he was introduced to the undercover fed, who supposedly worked for a drug trafficking organization. He agreed to work with the supposed gang, and went on to deliver crack cocaine, guard a drug deal in a grocery store parking lot, repeatedly smuggle drug money for the gang, help a cocaine dealing friend stay out of legal trouble, and use drugs himself. Although Dodgin could have been hit with numerous felonies, he was only charged with two, primarily because he agreed to cooperate in the federal corruption investigation. Dodgin helped bring down his boss, Chief Deputy Patrick Taylor, and Taylor's brother Jarrod by brokering a deal with the supposed gangsters and Taylor where the Taylor brothers agreed to buy stolen merchandise Dodgin was being paid to protect. They've pled guilty to theft charges and will be sentenced in July.

In Eugene, Oregon, the city has agreed to pay $900,000 in damages to a woman who was forced to perform sex acts by a Eugene police officer after being caught with a small amount of marijuana, the Associated Press reported. The settlement is the latest and the largest so far in a series of lawsuits filed by victims of sexual assaults by former officer Roger Magana, who is serving a 94-year prison sentence on charges he raped, harassed, or sexually assaulted 13 women during his eight years on the force. In this case, the victim said Magana and other police officers sought sexual favors from her after finding a small bag of weed, and Magana threatened to arrest her and take her child away if she did not perform sex acts with him. Sex occurred on numerous occasions over a year-long period, with Magana arriving at her house in uniform in his patrol car. Another woman said Magana assaulted her about 25 times during the same period, and the lawsuit alleged he preyed on women with drug or alcohol problems. The city has paid out $1.75 million so far in four lawsuits. Six more are set for trial beginning July 5.

In Edinburg, Texas, an Edinburg police officer was arrested while on duty April 19 on charges he is a member of a Lower Rio Grande Valley drug trafficking family led by his brother, a former McAllen, Texas, police officer. Edinburg Police Officer Jesus Lorenzo Meza, 32, was one of nine people, five of them Meza brothers, arrested in joint raids by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Mission, McAllen, and Edinburg police departments. Police identified Francisco Meza-Rojas, 41, as the ringleader of the "Meza Drug Trafficking Organization." He was a McAllen police officer until he quit in 1992. In a statement issued April 23, law enforcement said the Meza family smuggled and shipped cocaine and marijuana to other trafficking groups in the Valley. The bust was the result of a 10-year-old DEA investigation into corruption in the Valley. The nine arrested face conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana charges and are looking at up to life in prison.

In Laredo, Texas, the deputy commander of a local drug task force was indicted April 20 on charges he extorted payments from drug smugglers and traffickers in exchange for protection from arrest. FBI agents arrested Laredo Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force deputy commander Julio Alfonso Lopez, 45, of Zapata, along with another man. A statement from US Attorney Don DeGabrielle said the pair were indicted on 10 counts for accepting at least $44,500 from traffickers seeking safe passage through the town. The indictment also alleges they leaked law enforcement information to traffickers and provided storage for cocaine shipments. The arrest comes as the task force, like other scandal-ridden Texas drug task forces, is losing state-controlled federal funds. The Laredo task force is attempting to refashion itself as a border anti-terrorism task force now, because that's where the official money is. It looks like deputy commander Lopez knew where the unofficial money was.

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Issue #433 -- 4/28/06

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Feature: A Perfect Storm on the US-Mexican Border as Drug and Immigration and Terror Wars Converge | Feature: DPA "City Strategy" Takes Aim at Drug War in the Nation's Capital | Feature: NORML Marijuana Reform Conference Wraps Up | Offer: Important New Legalization Video Available | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Medical Marijuana: Bipartisan House Coalition Challenges FDA Medical Marijuana Finding | Legalization: Buffalo Politician Ignites Firestorm by Using "L-Word" | Harm Enhancement: Adulterated Batches of Heroin Killing Users in Chicago, on East Coast | Medical Marijuana: Ed Rosenthal's Federal Cultivation Convictions Overturned | Southeast Asia: Malaysia Bans Marijuana Magazines | Canada: Vancouver Mayor Wants Drug Maintenance Program | Web Scan: Slate, Scientific American, The Economist and Rush Limbaugh on Medical Marijuana and the FDA, In These Times Book Reviews | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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